Monday, July 27, 2009

Our views: 'Life without'

Prison sentences without parole are justified for worst violent crimes

The Space Coast has been shocked this week by two violent crimes:

The slaying of Kenneth Moore Jr., a member of a prominent Rockledge family, in his home and the double murder of Andrea Richardson and Krystal Pinson in a Titusville apartment.

Police are seeking suspects in both cases, and when they’re caught, they could face the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole if convicted.

However, a new study by the respected Sentencing Project says “life without” should be abolished because it increases prison costs and its use is drastically tilted toward minorities.

Both are serious issues in Florida, which has more than 3,000 inmates serving life without parole and where lawmakers are looking for more ways to reduce prison spending because of huge budget shortfalls.

And where longstanding questions of racial disparity in sentencing cannot be ignored.

Nonetheless, we share the sentiments of law enforcement officials, who say the penalty is appropriate for criminals guilty of heinous acts and some repeat and major drug dealers. And that the punishment helps drive down violent crime.

If taxpayers have made one thing clear, it’s they don’t want jails and prisons to release prisoners with violent records to help the government save money during the recession.

We agree, and believe life without parole should be maintained for the worst offenders.

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